The Nissan Versa Note is the hatchback version of the subcompact Versa sedan. Previously known simply as the Versa hatchback, it got a new name when the redesigned model bowed for 2014. The Versa Note boasts a roomy interior, good fuel economy and an unusually low base price.
Given its tepid driving dynamics and underwhelming cabin quality, though, the Versa Note isn't a top pick among small, affordable hatchbacks. Rivals like the Honda Fit and Kia Soul have a wider range of talents. But money talks, and there's a good chance that Nissan's little runabout will be the most affordable car on your list. If you're looking for a spacious hatchback on the cheap, take note.
Current Nissan Versa Note
The Nissan Versa Note is a four-door hatchback offered in S, S Plus and SV trim levels. The S sticks to the bare necessities, providing steel wheels, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, manual windows and locks and a four-speaker sound system. The S Plus gets a standard CVT (continuously variable transmission), cruise control and active grille shutters to aid fuel economy. The SV adds full power accessories, upgraded interior trim and gauges, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Optional extras on the SV are largely bundled into packages and include keyless ignition/entry, a rearview camera, two different touchscreen interfaces (measuring 4.3 inches or 5.8 inches), a navigation system, a 360-degree parking camera system, a USB/iPod input and Bluetooth streaming audio.
All Versa Notes are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is mandatory on the base S trim, while the other trims are equipped with the CVT. The best fuel economy comes from selecting the CVT.
In reviews and ratings, we've commented favorably on the Versa Note's astoundingly roomy backseat. Based on the car's pint-sized dimensions, you'd expect two adults to feel crammed in there like proverbial sardines, but a couple of 6-footers can actually share the rear bench with head- and legroom to spare. Luggage space is also a strength, though maximum capacity with the seatbacks flipped forward is unremarkable.
In other respects, the Versa Note falls short of segment leaders. Interior materials are about what you'd expect from one of the cheapest hatchbacks on the market, notwithstanding the SV's extended cloth inserts. The engine drones intrusively when it's working hard, which is often. Even in a featherweight subcompact, 109 hp isn't much oomph. Although the ride is generally comfortable, rough roads can give the car's structure a bad case of the shakes. If you keep your expectations low, you might be pleasantly surprised, but most of the Versa Note's competitors will be more pleasant on a daily basis.
Used Nissan Versa Note Models
The current Nissan Versa Note is a new model. But its predecessor, the first-generation Versa hatchback, was produced from 2007-'12 and is covered in the Nissan Versa model review.
Read the most recent 2014 Nissan Versa Note review.